Bedivere and the End of Excalibur
Released on April 30, 2021
Part 1: Excalibur
I helped my injured king as he struggled to walk.
As we walked through the forest, I held my king up, as best as I could - my left arm gripped the back of his torso, while my right hand held on to his arm which was resting on the back of my neck.
Finally, we reached the end of the forest, and could see the edge of a lake.
"We're here, my king," I said, "I've brought you to the nearest lake, as you've asked."
"Thank you, Bedivere," he said, "Please, help me sit down."
I helped my king sit down, leaning his back against a tree.
"Thank you," he said.
I looked down at my king - the great King Arthur.
He had suffered a grievous wound to his head, one dealt to him by Sir Mordred - the treacherous Sir Mordred who was King Arthur's own son, and, like me, a Knight of the Round Table.
"Sir Bedivere," my king struggled to say.
I knelt down next to him, "Yes, my king?"
"This is my final order for you," he said, as he reached for his sword.
King Arthur held out his legendary sword, Excalibur - the same Sword in the Stone that he had pulled out so long ago, in order to prove that he was worthy of being king.
"Throw this into the lake," he said.
Befuddled, I looked up at my king, "I-I beg your pardon, my king?"
Once more, my king held out his sword, "Throw this into the lake."
Reluctantly, I picked up the sword, and stood up.
Though I knew what my king had ordered me to do, I could only stand there and stare at Excalibur.
"Why do you hesitate?" King Arthur asked, weakly.
"I..." I looked down at my king.
Upon seeing the dying form of my king, I gripped the sword tightly, not willing to let go.
"I'm sorry, my king, but I can't do it!" I explained, "You will die if I cast the sword away from you, is that not true?!"
King Arthur let out a weak chuckle, albeit a sad one, "While it's true that the sword has had many enchantments cast upon it, unfortunately, immortality for its wielder is not one of them."
Still I hesitated, "Even so, perhaps one of these enchantments can still save you!"
"We can't lose you now, my king!" I continued, "It was your perfection that led our kingdom to such great heights! And now that Camelot has fallen, we need you to lead us, so that we can rebuild what was lost. We need you now, more than ever, my king!"
King Arthur paused for a moment, before saying, "Perfection, you say?"
My king sadly shook his head, "I won't deny that I have always strived for perfection as a king, and for my kingdom as well. Whether or not we had reached that ideal, will always be up for debate."
"But, my dear Bedivere," my king continued, "all things must pass, even a 'perfect' king and a 'perfect' kingdom."
"And soon," he said, "it will be my time to pass."
"No..." I said, softly. My throat choked, as tears began to well in my eyes.
His hand reached out to me, and I knelt down to grab it.
"I know that, with this final order, I am asking much from you," he said, "And for that, I am sorry."
I shook my head.
"But, you must find a way to move on after this," my king said, "for it is not yet time for you to pass on, my dear Bedivere."
Tears streamed down my cheeks, and I gripped my king's hand tightly.
Finally, I said, "I understand, my king."
I wiped my tears and stood up, holding Excalibur in my hands.
I walked over to the edge of the lake, and I gave the sword one last look.
Then, I threw Excalibur into the lake.
However, before the sword could even hit the water, a hand reached out from the waters and caught the sword.
In awe, I watched as the hand sank back into the lake with Excalibur in hand.
From behind me, I could hear my king say, "And now, I have kept my promise to you, my dear Merlin - I have returned the sword to the lake, when I had no more need for it..."
I turned back to my king, and rushed to his side.
He reached out, and I held on to his hand once more.
"Thank you, my dear Bedivere," he said, "for helping me, one last time."
And after those final words, King Arthur passed on.
***Part 2: Avalon
Deeply saddened, I began to weep.
Suddenly, the sounds of water being disturbed caught my attention.
Quickly, I turned towards the lake to locate the source of the sounds.
Emerging from the lake, was a woman.
Stunned, I could only watch as she walked out from the waters, and began walking towards me.
"W-Who are you?" I managed to say.
"I have had many names over the years - Nimue or Vivian seems to be the most well-known amongst them," the woman replied. As she came to a stop in front of me, she continued, "You may also know me by my title - the Lady of the Lake."
"Was it you whose hand rose from the lake to catch Excalibur?" I asked.
The Lady nodded.
Then, she said, "It was I, who forged Excalibur for Merlin, at his request - so that he could set it into the Stone. And it was I, again, who repaired Excalibur when it had been broken."
"But, now that the sword has been returned to me," she continued, "it seems that its time has come to an end."
The Lady of the Lake turned to look at King Arthur, "As has your king's."
She knelt down next to him, and softly touched his face.
A moment passed, before she said, "Or perhaps not."
Then, without another word, the Lady of the Lake swiftly lifted up King Arthur, as if he and his armour weighed nothing at all.
Stunned, I could only watch as she carried my king towards the lake.
As she started to place my king into a boat that had not been there before, I was finally able to move.
I rushed to the boat, yelling, "Where are you taking him?!"
"To Avalon," the Lady replied, as I reached them.
Bewildered, I said, "Avalon? We have sailed up and down on this lake, there is no-"
"It is beyond your mortal realm," the Lady said, interrupting me, "All lakes lead to Avalon - so as long as I am there to guide the waters."
"But, why Avalon?" I asked.
"It was at Merlin's request," she replied, "So that, perhaps, one day, Arthur can become the Once and Future King."
"What do you mean, the Once and Future King?" I said, "What does that mean?!"
But, the Lady of the Lake did not answer me.
Instead, she started to walk out into the lake.
Then, as if the Lady had commanded it, the waters started to move the boat as well, following the Lady of the Lake.
"Wait!" I yelled after them.
But, as they went farther into the lake, mist had started to shroud the Lady and the boat.
I could only watch as the Lady of the Lake and the boat that was carrying my king disappear completely into the mist.
Then, just as sudden as its appearance was, the mist cleared.
And the Lady and the boat was gone.
I fell to my knees, unable to move or do anything.
Then, I cried.
I cried for the passing of my king and for the end of Camelot.
I cried for the end of the Knights of the Round Table and for the deaths of my fellow knights.
And I cried for all the death and destruction that had been brought by the wars.
But, finally, when all that was done, I picked myself up again.
Because, just as my king had said, it was time to find a way to move on.
An epilogue to the "King Arthur trilogy" ("Mordred at Camlann", "Gawain Versus Lancelot - The Tragic Folly of Two Knights", and "Arthur and the Sword in the Stone").
While King Arthur does feature heavily in this story, I consider it more of an epilogue, rather than a part of the trilogy - this is because Arthur's time has pretty much ended by this point, and this is just... wrapping up some loose ends before he goes.
I would consider this more of an Excalibur story - and, when paired with "Arthur and the Sword in the Stone", this story is the end to that one's beginning.
On the lore side of things - Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone are sometimes kept as separate swords, with Excalibur being the sword that Arthur is given to by the Lady of the Lake, after the Sword in the Stone is broken.
Other times, when they are the same sword, Excalibur just never gets broken.
For my version (and there are other versions that do this as well), I felt like keeping the Sword in the Stone and Excalibur as the same sword, as well as having the sword get broken at some point - hence, having Nimue repair the sword.
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